At a press conference today, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has declared a public health emergency to boost efforts to combat the county’s opioid epidemic.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger briefs reporters on May 1, 2018 (Jill Enders photo)

According to Stenger, addictive prescription drug-related overdose deaths have climbed in St. Louis County by 70% over the past five years with 203 lives lost in 2017. He says the drug Naloxone reversed at least 112 overdoses in 2017 alone.

The emergency declaration aims to improve collaboration and coordination among agencies and community partners, help overcome legislative and regulatory barriers and focus attention and resources on solutions. The county’s action plan unveiled today focuses on education and prevention, harm reduction and rescue, treatment, recovery and improved public health data.

There are 25 community partners involved in the effort, including several health organizations.

According to a press release from the state Department of Health and Senior Services, the number of opioid related deaths in Missouri increased from 2016 to 2017 by about 4.7%. That figure is a drastic difference from 2015 to 2016 when Missouri experienced a 35% increase in opioid or heroin-related deaths.

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